Unemployment Kills, Literally

Losing your job can take a year off your life, according to new research from Columbia University. Daniel Sullivan of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and Till von Wachter of Columbia University jointly published a paper showing that mortality rates for high-senority male workers spiked sharply (50-100%) in the year following a layoff and remains high even two decades later.

If this death rate persists into old age, it implies “a loss in life expectancy of 1.0-1.5 years for a worker displaced at age 40,” the researchers wrote.

In a separate study, Kate Strully, a sociologist at the University of Albany, analyzed only no-fault job losses and the resulting health effects. (If employees who were already sick were laid off for poor performance, it would make sense that they’d have higher mortality rates.) Strully found that out of those workers laid off through no fault of their own, close to 9 percent who remained unemployed 18 months later had developed a stress-related health condition.